YEP Says, September 16: Can Leeds afford to lose 3,500 council houses?

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THE warning by charity Shelter that Yorkshire faces losing more than 8,000 council homes in a sell-off designed to raise funds for a new right-to-buy scheme is a matter of great concern.

Leeds stands to be the hardest-hit if the Government presses ahead, with the council facing a sell off of almnost 3,500 properties.

The aspiration to own a home is deeply ingrained in British people, and the right-to-buy concept - that was such a notable political and popular success of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership - is a policy that could make all the difference between being able to own a home and it being beyond reach.

Against a backdrop of relentlessly rising property prices, right-to-buy is likely to prove for some the only realistic route to home ownership.

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However the need for social housing remains as acute as ever in the face of increasing population and the many people on low incomes who rely on the moderate rents and security of tenure offered by council accommodation to keep a roof over their heads.

Losing such numbers of council houses in Leeds will put the local authority under considerable pressure, not least given their duty to provide accommodation for the homeless.

It would be a dreadful misfiring of Government policy if an initiative aimed at allowing more people to own a home resulted in those needing somewhere to live being unable to find shelter.

Chef Michael O’Hare brings Star quality to Leeds

If it weren’t so twee (and entirely inappropriate bearing in mind the extraordinary, innovative genuis of the individual concerned), we’d suggest that chef Michael O’Hare’s Michelin Star, given to his restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain, was the absolute icing on the cake for the city of Leeds. Congratulations to the Middlesbrough lad for bringing it home to us. Please step from behind the curtain and take a bow!

Ann Maguire

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